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Friday, November 11, 2016

Electoral College or Popular Vote


Electoral College or Popular Vote



A cranky opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

I have been trying to stay away from politics in this blog, but I don’t think this counts as a political post in a piss-people-off kind of way. 

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with little knowledge on the topic opined.  Opposing views are welcome, they are wrong, but welcome, as always, please, no name calling…that means you, you big stupid head!

It would appear that once more the winner of a Presidential election by virtue of our strange electoral college system will not be the winner of the popular vote.  The question must be asked,

“Why do we not elect based on the popular vote?” 

I suspect it goes back to a time when only men who owned property could vote, and even they were not to be trusted.  Perhaps the electoral college was put in place so smart, trusted people (the electors) could overturn crazy popular results.

I am too lazy to research this, is there a history buff out there with a good answer?  Frog?? Old AF Sarge?

Here is a little from a quick Google search.  Keep in mind at the time of the Constitution news traveled slowly between states and most people knew little of the leaders outside their own state:

A third idea was to have the president elected by a direct popular vote. Direct election was rejected not because the Framers of the Constitution doubted public intelligence but rather because they feared that without sufficient information about candidates from outside their State, people would naturally vote for a "favorite son" from their own State or region. At worst, no president would emerge with a popular majority sufficient to govern the whole country. At best, the choice of president would always be decided by the largest, most populous States with little regard for the smaller ones. 

Anyway, we are stuck with this weird electoral college system.  I suppose it could be changed by a constitutional amendment, but that is a time consuming difficult process.  It is also unlikely that smaller states which have electoral votes disproportionate to their population would be willing to ratify anything that reduces their political influence.

I believe we should elect our President by Popular vote. 

Does that mean I think all results where the electoral college chose the winner in the face of a popular vote loss are invalid?  No!  That would be like claiming a baseball team that secured more offensive bases should win the game, not the team that made it all the way home the most times. 

Different rules will have different outcomes.

If the election was decided by popular vote, then candidates would campaign in all the states, not just the toss-ups.  Voting would be different.  States that historically always favor one side or another might have a different voter turn-out.  The electoral college winners are legitimate winners because campaigns are run, and voters vote, based on the rules of the game.

I still favor the popular vote. 

The popular vote seems the most just.  It would mean all areas of the country would have their concerns addressed, not just the toss-up states.  Still there may be an argument for the electoral college process, as strange as it is, and probably not for the reasons it was originally devised.

Assuming Hillary won the popular vote by around one or two hundred thousand votes; a differential of almost five million of those votes came out of New York, California, and Illinois; or perhaps more specifically, New York City, Las Angeles and Chicago, the media and politically elite capitals of the country.  If the whole country basically votes for one candidate, but the winner is chosen primarily from three states, or even three cities in the country, then a great portion of the country could feel helpless and disenfranchised. Political decisions might lean heavily to the concerns of a small geographical segment of the country.

The above point is worth considering, but I still favor elections based on the popular vote.

One more point in favor of the electoral college (which I still do not favor):

What happens when the election is extremely close like it has been several times in the last twenty years?  The recount in Florida after the Bush/Gore election was excruciating and to this day is disputed.  Imagine if that same recount was performed in every county and in every state.  It might take a year or more to sort it out and it might never be conceded or accepted.

Given all the pros and cons, I believe the President chosen by the electoral college is a fair and legitimately elected President.  

I do, however favor an election based on the popular vote.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.  


29 comments:

  1. Hubby and me were just talking about this today. I can see the pros of winning by popular vote but the advantages of the electoral college. It is such a 'science' for those running for office. They have to take into consideration the electoral vote. Hillary was so confident she would win Wisconsin, she didn't visit it, yet she ended up losing it. It was a given she would win California; in fact within minutes of the polls closing it was projected she would win it. There is a balance to be achieved, not sure what that balance is, but presently the system set in place seems to somewhat be working.

    betty

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  2. My preferred solution would be to stick with the electoral college, but to have the electoral votes from each state be awarded proportionately to each candidate based on the popular vote within that state. Two states do it that way now, and I think it'd be a wise way for us all to go. It's shameful how many people don't bother to cast a vote, but I can sympathize with them. The way the system works now, so many states are deeply Republican or deeply Democrat, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that those states are going to be casting all of their electoral votes in that direction. If electoral votes actually reflected the popular vote, I think that would give more people the incentive to vote.

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    1. I like this solution, it would still be possible to have an electoral winner with less popular votes because the electors are not assigned to states proportional to their population, but it would clearly be less likely. Also this solution could realistically be implemented where an amendment to decide the race by pure popular vote is very difficult and unlikely.

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  3. Popular vote seems like the right way, but let me also say, I think your country should have compulsory voting. Which means everyone over eighteen gets to vote.
    With that system, the campaigners would have to campaign in all states, just like with popular voting and the people would (maybe) become better informed

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  4. I think whoever wins the election has to take the 2nd place candidate as the VP. That way there will be a check n' balance between at least two parties. They'd both have to work together. Everyone gets representation. Just a thought.

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  5. I would rather have the popular vote, never have liked the electoral college system.

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  6. My reply was too long, so I created a link from this post to where character limit was not an issue.

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  7. Replies
    1. That is great, thanks Flyfshgrl! Any other history buffs want to chime in?

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    2. Flyfshrgrl has it exactly right. It's all part and parcel of being a Constitutional Republic, the United States is not, and wasn't intended to be, a democracy.

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  8. Some people think the uK method of voting is weird but I like it. Anyway, it sounds far less complicated than the US style of voting.

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  9. Susan's solution is the one i have wanted for a very, very long time. Now, how do we go about convincing everyone?

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  10. i'm still waiting for them to repeal daylight savings time...

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  11. Hi Joe,

    I actually didn't quite understand the US electoral system until this year when the BBC explained it in great detail. Now I understand it, I totally agree with you. It seems like a crazy, over-complicated and totally out-dated system.

    It's a bit like ours in the UK. The Liberal Democrat party here want the equivalent of your "popular vote" which we call "proportional representation". The reason they want it is that they will stand a better chance of winning. Effectively we have a system where the winner will always be either Labour or the Conservative Party. One of these is always in power. They do not want proportional representation because it will harm their chances of being elected.

    Yet in the recent Brexit referendum, we voted with proportional representation.

    Go figure!!

    :o)

    Cheers

    PM

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  12. I don't begin to pretend to understand your electoral system. From the outside looking in it seems complicated.

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  13. It's too bad we don't vote for party like they do in the UK instead of it being a vote for personalities.

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  14. It's tough to express an opinion on this topic this week without sounding as though I'm just tlaking about who I believe the winner should have been on Tuesday.

    I'm not.

    Everybody knew about the electoral college going into this, so the results are the results. If you're playing a board game with counter-intuitive rules, you are still agreeing to the rules when you pick up the dice.

    That being said, it sucks. For one thing, small states are over-represented in the electoral college. This is because even states with few people have 3 electoral votes. Wyoming could drop to one resident and still have 3 electoral votes, which means its residents' votes are worth many times more than mine are, living in Texas.

    So far as trying to get the winner to get support from all parts of the country, non-swing states don't get much attention by the candidates in the system we have now.

    It just makes sense for the person with the most votes to win.

    That being said, Susan's idea seems okay, too.

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  15. Without it the little states will never be heard. We need that to make sure they are heard.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  16. The Electoral College gives voice to the flyover states. You know, the ones that mainstream media tells us isn't that 'real America.'

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  17. The electoral college doesn't adhere to the "one man, one vote" premise!!

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  18. I would be for the popular vote for by living in a Red state, basically as it is now, my vote does not count.

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  19. Just heard on the news that with the most current tally H. is 600,000+ ahead. Wonder how long until Trump says he has a 'mandate'.

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    1. THe people protesting the result are annoying me, but I figure not many people have earned the right to bitch about politics more than Mike. We almost always disagree and he likes to paint me with a really broad brush, but I very much respect his service and he certainly has earned the right to be wrong.

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    2. Joeh, and I'm serious here, this may be one of the kindest things anyone has said to me in print. In ages. Excluding my kids.
      With work, it'd be memo's: "...he didn't have to say that even if I was wrong..." etc.
      Thank you. I think we are more alike that apart.

      Mike

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  20. I skyped with my sister in Germany after the election and had to explain some things about the electoral college to her (she knew most of it, probably more than some Americans, but wondered about a few details). She shook her head.

    I agree with you - it just doesn't seem fair. With that said, I don't think it will get changed. Right now, changing it would hurt the Republican President-elect, so the Republicans wouldn't vote for it. And if it would hurt a Democrat President-elect, the Democrats wouldn't vote for it. And wouldn't changing it require a 2/3 majority? (If someone knows, let me know - I just don't know for sure). So it ain't gonna happen.

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  21. I agree that it should be changed to the popular vote. I think more people would actually vote, instead of whining that their vote doesn't matter. And it would be wonderful not to be in a swing state where it gets really ugly.

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  22. I agree with popular vote - it's time. Its a diff world than what it was when the electoral college was created.

    *slinks back into cave of sadness*

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  23. I know it's late to add a comment but after having stumbled into this post here is one anyway. Way back during the Ford/Carter election of 1976, I remember a discussion on the electoral college and how it could lead to national discord if candidates started winning the presidency by it and with the popular vote going to the other person running.
    The idea presented was that we keep the electoral college system but that the winner of the popular vote would get an extra ten to twenty electoral votes to curb the possibility, but not eliminate, the massive cluster frak we have now and back in 2000 with Bush/Gore.
    Of course, realistically changing anything to do with the electoral college is a tough sell in the best of times. Now in these highly polarized times with one particular party winning the White House twice since the start of this century by the electoral college I'm sure glaciers have a better chance of forming in hell than doing away, or adapting that system.

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  24. I think the thing with electoral systems like the electoral college is, they generally work really well but every now and then throw up what seems to be an anomaly, then everyone questions whether they are the right way to go. But in general I think they are. 'First past the post' is unfairer than it intuitively seems, as it doesn't deal fairly with close races, or disproportionate numbers in different states. The price of a complex, generally well-organised electoral system is an occasional very unexpected result.

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